The Tears of Jesus: Luke 19:41-44
Did God visit you? But did you fail to recognize Him when He made the visit? Did you rebuff Him?
Jesus Wept Over Jerusalem
Twice we’re told that Jesus wept. He wept at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35). But, as He approached Jerusalem, He also shed tears (έκλαυσεν) over the city as He prophesied its catastrophic destruction (Luke 19:44). Jesus’ tears anticipate the hate-filled rejection He will shortly experience at the hands of His own people and the divine justice they would soon suffer. Jesus cried over the city because, in His words, “you did not recognize the time of your visitation (τόν καιρον της έπισκοπής σου; Luke 19:44).
His own people rejected Jesus because they failed to recognize His true identity as the embodiment of Israel’s God. By rejecting Jesus, they rejected God’s visit. They missed God’s long-awaited visit. Jesus’ tears flowed over the consequences of that failure.
God Visited Israel: They Rejoiced
Luke makes this astonishing claim by connecting Jesus’ visit to an earlier visitation by the God of Israel. When Aaron explained to the nation of Israel, subjected to slavery in Egypt, that the time of their suffering was ending and that miraculous signs would be performed, “the people believed and rejoiced, because God visited (έπισκέψατο) the sons of Israel, and because He saw their affliction; and the people bowed down and worshiped” (Ex 4:31).
God Visited a Village: The Dead Came to Life
The same joyful recognition of God’s visitation occurred when Jesus raised the dead son of a widow in Nain. “…they glorified God, saying., ‘A great prophet has been raised among us…God has visited (έπισκέψατο) His people’” (Lk 7:16; cf., 1:78). Tears (μή κλαίε) of a widow’s grief turned to joy. The villagers recognized Jesus’ visit as a visit by God Himself.
The hope of Israel was that God Himself would make the visit to redeem them. Yet, the weeping figure of Jesus, tears that anticipated the coming catastrophe, stuns the reader of Luke’s narrative. Israel’s dream would soon turn into a nightmare. A generation of tears.
As a people, they failed to recognize Jesus’ true identity, the embodiment of Israel’s God. By rejecting Jesus, they rejected God. God had visited them, but their biased expectations clouded their vision. Blurred vision morphed into outright injustice, skidding out-of-control into a head-collision with insanity, the killing of an innocent man, Jesus’ death on a cross. Tears of His mother.
Did God Visit You?
Will history repeat itself with you? Has Jesus come to visit you through a family member who follows Him? Is there a grandparent in your family who was a follower of Jesus? Have you thrown away that New Testament a friend gave you years ago as a gift? Can you see the tears in Jesus’ eyes? He cried over Jerusalem because it would soon suffer catastrophe—due to their refusal to recognize His true identity and the visitation of God. He weeps over your failed recognition as well.
When Jesus Visits, Welcome Him
When Jesus comes knocking on your life’s door for a visit, the visitor is God Himself. Drop your biases. Recognize His true identity. Rather than rebuff Him as others did, welcome Jesus. Embrace God by trusting in the crucified and risen Son. Follow Him and you’ll follow God. Anticipate the joy, not the tears, you’ll see in Jesus’ eyes.